Flaxseed

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Healthy Benefits

Disease Prevention and Risk Reduction

Studies have suggested that flaxseed may have a protective effect against breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. The lignans in flaxseed may help protect against cancer by blocking enzymes that are involved in hormone metabolism and interfering with the growth and spread of tumor cells.

Research shows that plant omega-3s help the cardiovascular system through several different mechanisms, including anti-inflammatory action and normalizing the heartbeat. Several studies have suggested that diets rich in flaxseed omega-3s help prevent hardening of the arteries and keep plaque from being deposited in the arteries. Eating flaxseed daily may also help your cholesterol levels.

Research indicates that daily intake of the lignans in flaxseed may modestly improve blood sugar.

The essential fatty acids found in flax are like medicine to your cell membranes and actually boost resistance to allergens and illness. Flax can lower cholesterol, relieve arthritis, help treat multiple sclerosis, and help balance estrogen during menopause.

One study of menopausal women, published in 2007, reported that 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed mixed into cereal, juice, or yogurt twice a day cut their hot flashes in half. The intensity of their hot flashes also dropped by 57%. The women noticed a difference after taking the daily flaxseed for just one week and achieved the maximum benefit within two weeks.

Important Points

Due to the lack of studies, it may be best for pregnant women and nursing mothers to avoid supplementing with flaxseed. Some studies do show protective benefits against breast cancer in the offspring while other studies show the opposite effect.

Resources

Magee, Elaine, MPH, RD. “Flaxseed Health Benefits, Food Sources, Recipes, and Tips for Using It.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 27 July 2013.

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